Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Ancestors' Right to Vote

Thanks to an idea from Michael John Neill over at RootDig, I spent election night (in addition to watching the television coverage) examining my ancestors and their rights to exercise the right to vote.

Michael embedded a nifty little Google Doc into his blog, which I confess caught my eye more than anything else, so I decided to take a look at my own ancestral heritage when it comes to voting rights.  My parents, grandparents, and I all had the right to vote when we came of age - 21 or 18.  I was more interested in how far back I had to go, both generationally and specifically, to find an ancestor who was not able to vote.

Here's my chart (modeled after Michael John Neill's):

My great-grandparents were all able to vote.  In particular, the women received that right with the 19th amendment in 1920, and they all lived long enough to vote if they so chose.  The next generation back, that of my great-great-grandparents is where I find the one ancestor I'm certain was never able to vote.

Mary Catherine Young Worrall was born in Pennsylvania in 1845, and died in Connecticut in 1913.  Her death notice appears in the Philadelphia Inquirer, 13 Aug 1913.

"Worrall," Philadelphia Inquirer, 13 Aug 1913, p. 13, col. 6; digital image, GenealogyBank (http://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 6 Nov 2012).

The ancestor I'm not certain of is my great-great-grandmother Margaret (Gilligan) McCormick.  Margaret was born in Ireland in 1851, and died in Albany, NY in 1927.  If she was a naturalized citizen, I presume she would have been able to vote when the 19th amendment was passed in 1920.

In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, her husband, Thomas McCormick is enumerated as a naturalized citizen who immigrated in 1865.  Margaret's immigration date in this census in noted as 1860.

Thomas died in 1905, so I looked next at the 1910 and 1920 censuses to see what additional information I could glean about Margaret.

birthplace - Ireland
year of immigration to the U.S. - 1855
whether naturalized or alien - blank

birthplace - Ireland
year of immigration to the U.S. - blank
naturalized or alien - blank
year of naturalization - blank

I assume, though, that because her husband was a naturalized citizen, she was also.  I don't know when Thomas naturalized, nor do I know when they married.  My best guess for a marriage date is around 1870 (give or take a few years), but I think Margaret would have received citizenship whether she married a naturalized citizen or he naturalized after they married.  Margaret probably did have the right to vote, but I'm not confident saying so with absolute certainty.

Note: I goofed this up a bit by forgetting a few folks on the chart.  See also, Ancestors' Right to Vote - Part the second.

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